Insights with Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: RETAINING EMPLOYEES

Positive conflicts in the workplace

…a critical strategy for African businesses

The world of work is constantly changing, and with it, so are the reasons why employees leave their jobs. From economic uncertainty to the changing expectations of the workforce, employers are facing significant challenges when it comes to retaining their employees. In fact, high turnover rates have become a significant concern for many businesses, as they can result in increased costs, decreased productivity, and a loss of institutional knowledge.

So, why is there such a high turnover rate in today’s workplace? One major factor is the economic uncertainty that has characterized the global economy in recent years. When companies are struggling financially, they may be forced to reduce their workforce, and those who remain may feel overworked and undervalued. This can lead to feelings of burnout and frustration, and ultimately, to the decision to leave the organization.

Another key factor contributing to high turnover rates is the changing expectations of the workforce. Today’s employees are looking for more than just a paycheck; they want meaningful work, a positive company culture, and opportunities for growth and development. In a tight labor market, where job seekers have more choices than ever before, employers need to be proactive in meeting these expectations if they want to attract and retain top talent.

Research has also shown that a lack of recognition and appreciation can contribute to high turnover rates. Employees want to feel valued and appreciated for the work they do, and when they don’t receive that recognition, they may become disengaged and ultimately decide to leave the organization. Additionally, a lack of opportunities for career growth and development can also lead to high employee turnover rates. When employees feel like they’ve hit a dead end in their career, they may become restless and seek out other opportunities elsewhere.

In addition to these factors, there are also industry-specific challenges that can contribute to high employee turnover rates. For example, industries such as hospitality and retail are notorious for their high turnover rates, as employees may view these jobs as temporary or as a steppingstone to something better. However, even in these industries, employers can take steps to improve employee retention.

As a business coach, I often hear from African businesses that one of their biggest challenges is retaining their top talent. The competition for skilled workers is fierce, and businesses need to take a proactive approach to keep their employees engaged and motivated. In this article, I want to share some tips on how African businesses can rethink how they retain their employees and practical steps that can be taken to foster a culture of engagement, growth, and loyalty.

So, what exactly is employee retention, and why should you care?

Employee retention is all about keeping your employees engaged, productive, and committed to your organization over the long haul. It’s a crucial strategy for building a strong and loyal workforce that can drive business growth, innovation, and success. And trust me, it’s worth paying attention to.

So, why does retaining employees matter? Well, for starters, it can save you some serious cash. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management, the cost of replacing an employee can range from 50% to 200% of their annual salary. That’s a lot of money! When you retain employees, you reduce those costs and improve your bottom line.

But it’s not just about the money. Engaged employees are also more productive than their disengaged counterparts. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, only 13% of employees in sub-Saharan Africa are engaged in their work. That’s a problem. Improving engagement can lead to increased productivity, better customer service, and higher profits.

And here’s something else to consider – retaining experienced employees is crucial for maintaining institutional knowledge and expertise. According to a study by McKinsey, retaining knowledge workers can save businesses up to 30% of their knowledge-related costs. That’s a big deal, especially for companies that rely on specialized skills and knowledge.

While employee retention is important for all businesses, African businesses face unique challenges. These challenges include:

  1. Brain Drain: Skilled professionals leave Africa in search of better opportunities and working conditions in developed countries. According to the African Development Bank, Africa loses around $4 billion annually to brain drain. This makes it difficult for African businesses to find and retain skilled employees.
  2. Limited Resources: African businesses may have limited resources, including financial, technological, and human capital, making it difficult to invest in employee development, benefits, and compensation.
  3. Cultural Barriers: African businesses operate in a diverse and complex cultural landscape that can present challenges in terms of communication, collaboration, and employee engagement.
  4. High Turnover Rates: African businesses may face high turnover rates due to job dissatisfaction, lack of career growth opportunities, and poor working conditions.

Employee retention is a hot topic in the business world, and for good reason. for African businesses, employee retention can be particularly challenging due to unique cultural and economic factors.

Take, for example, Bola, a young professional in Lagos, Nigeria. Bola had been working at a small start-up for two years when she received a job offer from a larger company in the United States. The offer came with a higher salary, better benefits, and the opportunity to work on more exciting projects. Although Bola enjoyed working at her current company, she ultimately decided to take the job in the United States. Bola’s story is all too common in Africa, where skilled professionals often leave in search of better opportunities and working conditions in developed countries. According to the African Development Bank, Africa loses around $4 billion annually to brain drain. This makes it difficult for African businesses to find and retain skilled employees.

But there is hope. By implementing evidence-based strategies, African businesses can take practical steps to retain their employees and build a strong and loyal workforce. These are my 4 actionable keys to starting that journey.

  1. One such strategy is investing in employee development. Providing training and development opportunities to employees can help them acquire new skills and knowledge, improve their job performance, and increase their sense of engagement and satisfaction. Bola’s former company, for example, started offering regular training sessions and mentorship programs to its employees. Not only did this help employees develop new skills, but it also fostered a culture of continuous learning and growth. A real life is when the South African telecommunications company, Vodacom acted in response to high employee turnover rates. Vodacom launched a talent management program to improve employee retention. The program included initiatives such as career development plans, leadership training, and flexible working arrangements. The result was a significant reduction in turnover rates and an improvement in employee engagement and satisfaction.
  2. According to Forbes, one of the best ways to also reduce employee turnover is by getting feedback directly from employees on how they feel about working for the company. Now, you might think that exit interviews are the best way to gather this information, but unfortunately, they’re not very effective. By the time an employee decides to leave, it’s often too late to make meaningful changes. Instead, Forbes recommends conducting stay interviews with top performers to find out what would keep them from looking outside the company for new opportunities. But don’t stop there. Anonymous employee satisfaction surveys can also be a powerful tool for gathering feedback and insights. They allow employees to share their thoughts and concerns openly and honestly without fear of retribution. By taking the time to listen to your employees and address their concerns, you can build a more engaged, motivated, and loyal workforce. And that’s good for business.
  3. Another effective strategy is promoting a culture of engagement and inclusion. Creating a positive and supportive work environment that promotes open communication, collaboration, and inclusivity can help employees feel valued and engaged. Bola’s new company in the United States, for example, had a diversity and inclusion program that encouraged employees to share their perspectives and ideas. This made Bola feel like her contributions were valued and helped her feel more connected to the company culture.
  4. Forbes emphasizes the importance of hiring the right people the first time, even though it may seem like common sense. In today’s fast-paced economy, companies may feel pressure to fill open positions quickly, which can lead to hiring less-than-ideal candidates. However, this can result in increased turnover for both new and existing employees. New hires may struggle to keep up with the job’s demands and leave quickly, while existing employees may become burned out from constantly training new hires.

To avoid this scenario, it’s important to hold out for the best possible candidate for the open position. Clearly communicating expectations upfront can also help reduce the number of employees who accept the job only to leave shortly after because it wasn’t what they were expecting.

By prioritizing employee retention and implementing these strategies, African businesses can overcome the challenges they face and build a strong and loyal workforce that drives business growth and success. It’s not an easy task, but with dedication and a willingness to try new approaches, it’s achievable.

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